Preparation secures your future, and theirs.
If you do not have a will or a trust, California state law will govern who receives your assets after your death. Cosgrove, Cosgrove & Humphrey provides a complete range of trust and estate planning services to our clients. Estate planning means planning in advance for the distribution of your wealth, real estate, and assets for the well-being of your family and loved ones.
We help clients like you understand the beneﬁts of a revocable living trust. For example, most people may know that a trust will help to avoid a probate of your estate after you pass away. However, a trust will also help your family and loved ones to take over your ﬁnances if you become incapacitated, which may effectively avoid a conservatorship as well.
Whether you decide to prepare a trust or not, an estate plan is never complete without a will, an advanced healthcare directive, and a power of attorney, at a minimum. We encourage clients to take control by identifying their goals and preparing an estate plan to fulﬁll those goals. Whether you already have an estate plan that you would like us to review or you are starting from the beginning, you can be conﬁdent that Cosgrove, Cosgrove & Humphrey is the right choice.
Probate is the process by which a court supervises the transfer of legal title of property from the person who has died to his or her beneficiaries. A normal probate administration begins by submitting a will (if one exists) to the Court along with a request to act as an executor or administrator. From there, the appointed personal representative must identify and inventory property, have the property appraised, pay debts and taxes, prepare an accounting of the estate, and distribute the remaining property upon Court order. Probate can be a lengthy process, with a minimum of six months to close a probate. Navigating through the complex Court process of probate without an attorney can be difficult and frustrating at best. We’re here to help.
In certain circumstances, a probate is not necessary to transfer property after a person’s death. If the value of the total estate is less than $150,000, the property is jointly owned or the property has a beneﬁciary designation, it is likely that you do not need to open a probate. However, transferring property when someone dies can be complicated. If someone close to you has recently died, we strongly encourage you to engage us to handle the outstanding legal matters on your behalf. That way, you can focus on taking care of your family during its time of loss. We will thoroughly walk you through your options to determine if you are able to avoid a probate.
Unlike a will (or an estate without any estate planning), a trust may be administered without Court supervision, depending on the terms of the trust. In a trust administration, the trustee administers the assets for the beneﬁciaries in accordance with the trust terms.
A trustee may need assistance sending the required notiﬁcations, marshaling trust assets, making distributions, and ultimately terminating the trust. On the other hand, if you are the beneﬁciary of a trust, you will likely want to understand your rights and stay informed of the trust administration process. Whether you’re a trustee or a beneﬁciary, Cosgrove, Cosgrove & Humphrey can represent you to make the trust administration process efﬁcient and transparent.
Sometimes, due to age or inﬁrmity, people lose the ability to make sound decisions. When a person is unable to make good decisions about his or her ﬁnancial or personal affairs or has become susceptible to fraud or undue inﬂuence, the Court can establish a conservatorship for that individual, and name a person to be responsible for the conservatorship. If you believe your loved one may need a conservatorship, contact Cosgrove, Cosgrove & Humphrey to review the options.
A guardian is a person that is appointed by the Court to make decisions for a minor child. If a parent is no longer able to care for a child, due to death, incapacity, or substance abuse, a loved one can request that the Court appoint a guardian to make decisions for the child regarding his or her health, education or living arrangements. Similarly, if a minor child inherits assets or receives a settlement, a Court appointed guardian may be necessary to manage the child’s money until he or she reaches the age of eighteen. If you believe that a guardianship is in the best interest of a minor child in your family or care, Cosgrove, Cosgrove & Humphrey can help.
Litigation often arises where the beneﬁciary of a trust or estate believes that his or her interests are not being adequately protected or represented. We represent clients across a spectrum of trust and estate litigation, including disputes regarding undue inﬂuence, incapacity, misappropriation of assets, or breach of ﬁduciary duty of a personal representative. Cosgrove, Cosgrove & Humphrey can also assist in litigation related to conservatorships and guardianships.
During the litigation process, we will ﬁrst focus on trying to settle the litigation through less combative means. Courts, like lawyers, cannot solve every problem. We select our cases very carefully, and we counsel our clients likewise to be discerning about picking their battles. Our attorneys help our clients make sense of their situation before considering a lawsuit that may or may not serve their ultimate interests.
If litigation is unavoidable, Cosgrove, Cosgrove & Humphrey will be a zealous and assertive advocate on your behalf.
Business Succession Planning and Entity Formation
For many people, an ownership interest in a business may be their greatest asset. It’s important to understand what would happen to your business if you passed away. A business without a succession plan could end up in the hands of people unwilling or unable to continue its operations. Even worse, it may end up stuck in probate while the Court oversees the business. If you believe you should set up a plan for your business, we are glad to advise you on how to proceed.
Cosgrove, Cosgrove, & Humphrey can also assist in entity formation, including advice regarding the best entity for your business.